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Before the Grammy-nominated band took the stage at Irving Plaza in New York City recently, EW knocked a few back with them and asked about the backyard, gym equipment, and ensuing viral video fame that made 2006 their breakout year.
1 Get This Party Started
Formed in 1998, the Chicago foursome scored a rock-radio hit in 2002 with the eminently sing-along-able ”Get Over It,” from their self-titled debut. They attribute their inspiration to Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, and…Prince? ”From the second it starts,” says lead singer-guitarist Damian Kulash, ”Purple Rain is just, like, one long, perfect piece of music. We don’t really sound like Prince, but it’s in there.” For skeptics, singer-bassist Tim Norwind adds: ”A band we sound more like that’s a huge influence is the Pixies.”
2 You’ve Got the Look
So, what’s up with the office attire? ”In 2004 we did a show across the street from the Republican convention,” Kulash explains, ”and we wanted to dress up like Republicans and be kind of stiff on stage, so we put on suits. We thought it would make everything feel, like, really conservative, but instead, it sort of added this theatricality to our performances.” And do the fans follow, um, suit? ”At shows they do,” says drummer Dan Konopka. ”Yeah,” laughs Norwind, ”girls shave their heads and put on glasses, just like me.”
3 Dance Dance Revolution
The band’s flirted with dance routines since 2000, but it wasn’t until this year — with the backyard video for ”A Million Ways,” choreographed by Kulash’s sister, onetime ballroom dancer Trish Sie — that they became famous for their moves. ”It was an accident,” Kulash admits. ”We put up a video camera to see what it looked like, and that tape got out on the Internet and spread.” On the heels of that success, the band hooked up again with Sie to top themselves — and did, with the treadmill routine for the aptly titled ”Here It Goes Again.”
4 Coffee Achieving
Beginning in February, the band will support newly minted Britpop icons Snow Patrol on a string of national dates — which could pose some problems while penning material for a much-anticipated new album. ”When I’m on tour, I regularly get overcaffeinated and I think I have these brilliant, incredible ideas — like my mind fills with immense concepts, like our grand concept record,” says Kulash. ”I go home thinking I’m bursting with creative energy — and then when I actually sit down to write, all that comes out is this anemic trickle.”
5 Just Do It
”We’re making an iPod Nike album of sorts,” Kulash reveals. ”It’s like a 31- or 32-minute workout set all to our music, in which I get to tell people how to run on their treadmills.” And his bandmates are duly impressed: ”Damian is like a virtual Richard Simmons,” says Norwind. ”That’s exactly how I think of him too,” agrees guitarist Andy Ross. ”We actually tried a lot of things that never made it into the ‘Here It Goes Again’ routine,” laments Konopka, ”like a somersault.”